REDRESS PHASE 2
Redress Phase 2 is underway. Following the groundbreaking 2019 Shibayama case decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Japanese Latin Americans are continuing to fight for US government accountability. Justice demands reparations that match the scope and severity of the violations of fundamental human rights.
In 2022, for the first time in a presidential proclamation for Day of Remembrance of the WWII Japanese American incarceration, US President Biden acknowledged the JLA incarceration and exclusion from redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. This hopeful sign was later diminished upon learning that the Biden Administration considers resolution to be under the purview of the US Congress, while the world is witnessing the escalating turmoil our nation has been confronting, especially in the halls of Congress.
The struggle for JLA justice is now in the larger context of the existential threat to our nation’s democracy. All communities are once again seeing and experiencing the ascendancy of authoritarian movements in the US and many places around the world — emboldened racism, wartime hysteria, and failure of political leadership. The JLA struggle for justice and government accountability is an integral part of the larger struggle against racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism and for truth, peace, justice, and democracy.
MOBILIZING FOR EDUCATION, REPARATIONS & DEMOCRACY
Knowing our past helps us to understand lessons to better face the challenges of today. We want to educate ourselves and the public about the WWII treatment of 31,000 so-called “enemy” – persons of Japanese, German, Italian, and Jewish ancestry – both citizens and immigrant residents of the US as well as those seized from Latin America. We want accountability from our elected officials by securing reparations and stopping the repetition of the abuses from our nation’s history.
Collaborative work with other communities is exposing the historical truth of the US government’s WWII domestic and foreign policies and actions which led to massive constitutional and human rights violations across two continents. We are expanding and making more inclusive the wartime and redress narrative.
By uncovering the fuller history, we are confirming how conditions of war and civil strife can and did lead to claims of military necessity and national security to perpetrate widespread violations of fundamental rights on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, and religion. We are reaffirming that this was also a racist attack — intersecting with xenophobia and nativism — against persons of Japanese ancestry, regardless of citizenship and residency.
Our struggle is for historical truth, justice, democracy in action — to right the wrongs of the past and to build a better future for us all. Please join us in urging the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress to secure proper reparations for the JLAs; to honor the rule of law, including our international legal commitments; and to stop the recurrence of government violations now and in the future.
GOALS FOR THIS STAGE OF THE REPARATIONS MOVEMENT
- Teach the Shibayama case in law schools
- Support social justice legislation
- Educate & mobilize the public for redress action, using our powerful resources.
Teach the Shibayama case in law schools
During this period, we are reaching out to law school educators to teach the Shibayama case, alongside the Korematsu case, in their classrooms. Doing so will remind students that the struggle for redress did not end with the passage of the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, and that Phase 2 of the redress movement continues. It also reminds them that our struggles for justice are being litigated and watched in international tribunals, and that no one should be left behind when one part of an affected group gets redress but not another.
Support Social Justice Legislation
The ascendency of authoritarian movements, especially in the governments of nations — including the United States — has increased the urgency to pass effective legislation that would repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798 and similar laws that increase government surveillance of minority communities and authorize roundups and detentions without due process constraints.
Here are three bills pending in Congress which protect our fundamental rights which need to be passed.
The Neighbors Not Enemies Act, which repeals the Alien Enemies Act of 1798 and is pending re-introduction by Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN).
The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act prohibits unlawful detention based on race, ethnicity, national origin and other protected characteristics. It has been introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Rep. Mark Takano (CA).
The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (HR-40/S-40), establishes a study commission to examine slavery and its ongoing manifestations and impact in the US and recommends appropriate remedies. It has been re-introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX).
Educate & mobilize the public for redress action with our powerful resources
The Enemy Alien Files: Hidden Stories of WWII traveling exhibit. This ground-breaking exhibit has been updated and is now on tour. Added as a new feature is the Enemy Alien Files webpages with the exhibit tour calendar, booking information, an online version of the exhibit and other resources. This exhibit is a stunning presentation of the WWII experience of over 31,000 so-called “enemy aliens” of Japanese, Italian, German, and Jewish ancestry in the US and from Latin America. The exhibit reminds us of the fragile nature of our constitutional and human rights in times of international and domestic crisis as well as the human impact of government policies in the name of “national security.” Please help us to bring the exhibit to your community or campus.
The Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story documentary. This 26-minute film focuses on the experience of former Japanese Peruvian internee Art Shibayama — from his forcible deportation from his home in Peru and internment in Crystal City, Texas to his inspiring activism for JLA justice. Work is now underway to update this film, including the Shibayama case victory at the IACHR, Phase 2 of the redress movement, and translation into Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese.
JLA Oral Histories. These are our most treasured resource, serving to help preserve family legacies; document testimonial evidence and deepen understanding of wartime and redress experiences; and inspire intergenerational dialogue and activism. We invite you to help us collect, document, preserve and interpret JLA family histories. We particularly need help to digitize, transcribe, translate, edit, and archive our JLA oral histories.
1. Spread the word about the ongoing JLA reparations struggle.
2. Support teaching the Shibayama case in law schools.
3. Bring the Enemy Alien Files: Hidden Stories of WWII exhibit to your community.
4. Volunteer with CFJ or JPOHP.
- Preserve JLA oral histories
- Help update the documentary Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story
- Share your translation (Spanish, Japanese), website, social media, technical, and writing skills
- Contact us to attend our Volunteer Orientation Session
5. Make a financial donation.
6. Contact us to be on our mailing list for updates on these bills in Congress.
- Neighbors Not Enemies Act to repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798
- Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act to prohibit unlawful detention based on race, ethnicity, national origin, etc.
- Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (HR-40/S-40)
7. Stay in touch by following the CFJ website, Facebook page, and Instagram.
You can make a difference. Thank you!
JLA REDRESS RESOURCES
The following resources are available for screening at DOR 2023, community events, and classroom sessions as well as sharing on websites and social media. Please help spread the word.
NEW! JLA Redress Update (02/2023)
JLA Redress Update Video with Historical Background (2/2023 Video, 23 min)
“Get Involved” Slide (2/2023)
“CFJ & JPOHP Contact Information” Slide (2/2023)
CFJ Handout “2023 Day of Remembrance” page 1 (2/2023)
CFJ Handout “2023 Day of Remembrance” page 2 (2/2023)
The documentary Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story, 2004, 26 minutes, courtesy of Peek Media
Hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, March 21, 2017, video courtesy of the IACHR (with an introduction in Spanish and the remainder in English)
Press Conference announcing victory at the IACHR, August 5, 2020 (program begins at 3:23)
Presidential Day Of Remembrance Proclamation, 02/18/2022
For the first time ever, a President has acknowledged JLAs in a Day of Remembrance proclamation. Acknowledgement is the first step toward redressing a wrong.
“Phase 2 of Redress Has Begun” by Phil Tajitsu Nash, Rafu Shimpo, 02/12/2022
“America’s Forgotten Internment” by Jesús A. Rodríguez, Politico Magazine, 12/05/2021
AALDEF Letter of Support, 02/10/2022
IACHR Published Decision in the Shibayama case, 04/27/2020
CFJ Press Advisory Announcing IACHR Ruling, 08/05/2020
VICTORY AT THE IACHR
Campaign for Justice and Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project are thrilled to announce the groundbreaking ruling of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Many thanks to all who helped with this milestone victory.
The Shibayama family owned thriving businesses and were enjoying a prosperous, peaceful lifestyle in Lima, Peru. Their lives changed drastically during WWII when the family was kidnapped in Lima by the U.S. government, transported forcibly across international waters and imprisoned at Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas from March 1944 to September 1946. They lost everything — their home, businesses, property, community and country.
The Shibayamas, along with more than 2,200 other Latin Americans of Japanese descent, were seized for the purpose of hostage exchange with Japan. The Shibayama children, who were born in Peru, ranged in age from 5 to 13 years old. Their beloved grandparents were used by the U.S. government in a hostage exchange and sent to war-devastated Japan, and the family never saw them again.
After the war ended, the Shibayamas were classified as “illegal aliens” and forced to fight deportation from the U.S. when Peru would not allow their return.
Not finding justice for the war crimes and crimes of humanity committed against them in the U.S. courts nor Congress, Isamu Carlos “Art,” Kenichi Javier and Takeshi Jorge Shibayama took their case to the international arena.
In June 2003, the Shibayama brothers and the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project filed the Shibayama, et al. v. USA petition, Case No. 12.545, with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) seeking equitable redress for ongoing violations of their rights by the U.S. government under several articles of the American Convention on the Rights and Duties of Man.
Thirteen years after the initial filing, an expedited hearing was requested due to the Shibayama brothers’ age and failing health. A public hearing was granted in January 2017 and scheduled for March 2017.
On March 21, 2017, the public hearing before the IACHR was held at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, D.C. No attorneys from the U.S. government appeared at the hearing nor other IACHR hearings on March 21st, which raised concerns from the ACLU and other civil and human rights organizations regarding the United States’ commitment to human rights leadership in the Americas.
Read more on the IACHR hearing.
THE FAVORABLE RULING
The large body of evidence that supported the Shibayama claims was irrefutable, leading the IACHR decision to read:
“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concludes that the [USA] is responsible for the violation of Articles II (equality before the law) and XVIII (fair trial and effective remedy) of the American Declaration [of the Rights and Duties of Man]…And reiterates its recommendations to the USA to:
(1) provide integral reparation for the human rights violations…including both the material and moral dimensions, and adopt measures for economic compensation and measures of satisfaction…[and]
(2) ensure full disclosure of government information relating to the program of deportation and internment of JLAs during WWII, as well as relating to the fates of the individuals subject to this program.”
Links to additional information on the IACHR ruling:
IACHR Published Report
Press Advisory Announcing Ruling
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What happened to the JLAs during World War II?
From December 1941 to February 1948, the U.S. government orchestrated and financed the mass abduction, forcible deportation and internment of 2,264 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries. Stripped of their passports en route to the United States, these Japanese Latin Americans (JLAs) were declared “illegal aliens” upon arrival in the U.S.
The U.S. planned to use them as hostages in exchange for Americans held by Japan during World War II. Over 800 JLAs were included in two prisoner of war exchanges between the U.S. and Japan. The remaining JLAs were imprisoned without due process of law in U.S. Department of Justice internment camps until after the end of the war.
The wartime treatment of JLAs was part of a larger “enemy alien” program which also targeted people of German and Italian descent in the U.S. and from Latin America. Over 31,000 of these enemy aliens were apprehended, thousands were put into internment camps, and over 4800 (including U.S. citizens who were the minor children of resident aliens) were forcibly deported in civilian prisoner exchanges. The net effect of these programs was to leave JLAs in an indeterminate status so that they could be deprived of individual due process rights, separated from their families, and kept in inhumane living conditions behind barbed wire.
Q: What countries were involved in the hostage exchange program?
A: The United States and 13 Latin American countries
The United States government initiated and orchestrated the exchange program, assuming
all expenses and responsibility. The Department of State was responsible for the
deportations from Latin American countries and the exchanges with Japan. The Department
of Justice was responsible for interning Japanese Latin Americans in the United States.
13 Latin American countries cooperated with the exchange program by apprehending,
detaining and deporting citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry: Bolivia,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti,
Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.
Q: How many Japanese Latin Americans were apprehended, deported to and interned in the United States?
A: 2264 Japanese Latin Americans + 68 babies born during internment
2264 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry, citizens and permanent residents of 13 Latin American countries were apprehended, deported to and interned in the U.S.
At least 331 men were also interned at the U.S. military base in Panama. Some were forced to perform hard labor before being sent to internment camps in the U.S.
68 babies were born in Crystal City Internment Camp, Texas between 1942 and 1947.
7 persons died while in custody between 12/41 and 2/27/48 (when Crystal City Internment Camp officially closed).
Q. How many Japanese Latin Americans were exchanged during WWII?
A. Approximately 865 Japanese Latin Americans were exchanged.
There were two exchanges involving 2405 persons of Japanese ancestry from the US and Latin America and 18 persons of Thai ancestry. Of these, at least 865 were Japanese nationals who were permanent residents of Latin American countries as well as Latin American citizens of Japanese ancestry. The first exchange ship left New York on 6/18/42 with 128 Japanese Latin American internees and picked up additional persons in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The second exchange ship left New York in 9/43 with 737 Japanese Latin American internees.
Q. What happened to the Japanese Latin Americans who were still interned at the end of WWII?
112 Japanese Bolivians, Costa Ricans and Ecuadorans are assumed to have been deported to Japan at the end of WWII.
945+ Japanese Peruvians were deported to Japan at the end of WWII.
365 Japanese Peruvians remained in the US to fight for the suspension of deportation, with hopes of returning to their homes in Peru. Of these, about 300 Japanese Peruvians were able to resolve their “illegal alien” status in the 1950s and eventually become US permanent residents or naturalized citizens.
Eventually, about 100 Japanese Peruvians were able to return to Peru.
Q. What is the history of the JLA campaign for justice?
This is almost an 80-year struggle for justice with the fight beginning in the concentration camps as JLAs asserted their rights and sought protection under the Geneva Convention as civilians during wartime.
JLA’s began to support and mobilize for redress as part of the Japanese American redress movement. Over 40 years ago, JLA elders raised the demand for JLA redress as they struggled for participation in the CWRIC hearings. In 1981, seven JLAs were allowed to testify at hearings in three cities. When the CWRIC report was published the following year, the JLA wartime experience was included but relegated to the appendix.
The U.S. Justice Department deemed that JLAs were ineligible for redress under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 because they were not U.S. citizens nor legal permanent residents at the time of their incarceration. The U.S. government has relied on the fabricated classification of “illegal alien” as justification to restrict redress eligibility and to deny the right to redress.
Therefore, between 1996 and 1999, five lawsuits were filed on behalf of the former JLA internees. The Mochizuki, et al. v. USA case resulted in a settlement whereby the U.S. government agreed to issue individual apology letters and compensation of $5,000 per internee who was alive when the CLA of 1988 for Japanese Americans was enacted. While the settlement agreement terminated further litigation, there was no prohibition against pursuit of legislative remedy by the U.S. Congress for equitable redress. The other four lawsuits were dismissed by the U.S. courts on technical grounds.
For the JLA internees who rejected the Mochizuki settlement and were unable to secure justice in the U.S. courts, they continued the struggle in the international arena. In June 2003, a petition on behalf of the JLAs was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, a body of the Organization of American States) to hold the U.S. government accountable for the ongoing failure to provide redress for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is this case (Shibayama versus United States) that has yielded a groundbreaking victory for the JLAs.
On the legislative front, two redress bills were proposed but both died in committee in the early 2000s. One bill sought comprehensive redress for all persons of Japanese ancestry excluded from the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, including the JLAs. The second bill would have established a study commission to address the JLA wartime violations and redress recommendations.
“Until the crime is over – meaning that it has been fully acknowledged and fully compensated – it is ongoing.” – Karen Parker, Esq., lead attorney, Shibayama vs United States